This page is designed to answer the following questions:
- 2.3 Demonstrate the ability to reflect on work activities (Level 2 Diploma in Care, Personal development in care settings)
- 2.2 Reflect on practice to improve the quality of the service provided (Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care, Promote personal development in care settings)
NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.
Reflection is a very important skill to have for a health and social care worker. When reflecting on an activity, we ask ourselves why something is not working particularly well and how we can improve it or look at a task we have performed and ask ourselves how it went and what we do differently if we did it again.
Essentially, it is a thinking exercise that can be used to develop ourselves and make our work practices better. And you don’t need anything to do it. Just set aside five or ten minutes to think about what you’ve done. Many people choose to do this when they are lying in bed, just before they go to sleep.
Sometimes it is useful to reflect on work activities as a group, which means chatting with managers, colleagues and other professionals about something that has happened and how it may be avoided or improved going forward. You may also use reflection in one-on-one discussions with your manager, for example in your supervision. A common question for a manager to ask in supervision is ‘what do you think you can improve on?’
For your Level 2 Diploma, you will need to evidence that you have used reflection as a personal development tool in your day-to-day work. This may come from supervision notes or team meeting minutes or it may just be describing a situation to your tutor where you have used reflection. Below is the example that I used for my diploma:
One example is when my team were trying to promote a client’s independence by encouraging him to clean his bathroom. Each day he would be asked if he wanted to clean it and each day he said “no”. It was an almost robotic response. The service user has a learning disability, which means questions had to be kept simple, whilst still promoting choice, so after thinking about it I came up with the idea of changing the question to “do you want to clean your bathroom now or later?”. The next day, I asked the question and his first response was “later”, but after a couple of minutes, he changed his mind and said “I’ll do it now.” and went upstairs to clean his bathroom. This technique is still being used by the team.
Whereas for Level 2, you will use reflection to develop yourself, at Level 3 you will use reflection to improve the quality of work provided by your whole team, service or even organisation. You can do this by using the insights you have gained from reflection to the benefit of everyone or reflect on the work of others to identify ways that they could improve.
Example question and answer
Create a guide for the new social worker on how to reflect on their practice. The guide must include the headings listed with an explanation of each.
- What is reflective practice?
- Why is reflective practice important?
- How reflective practice contributes to improving the quality of service provision.
- How standards can be used to help a social care worker reflect on their practice.
This guide is intended for new starters at Care Company Ltd to explain the concept and importance of reflective practice in your role as a social care worker.
What is reflective practice?
Reflective practice is a technique that uses your experiences as a social care worker to help you to improve the way that you work.
You can use reflective practice in all aspects of your work but it is most useful following particularly difficult experiences. All you need to do is think about an aspect of your work (what you did, how you felt when you were doing it) and then critically analyse your actions and ask yourself how you could have done it better. Next time a similar situation arises, you can use the knowledge you have garnered from your reflective practice to aid you. The image below depicts a typical reflective cycle:
Why is reflective practice important?
Reflective practice is a vital skill to have in the health and social care sector because we continually strive to improve ourselves and the services that we provide. By analysing the way we work, we gain valuable insights into what we are doing and how we might do it better.
For example, John is a Support Worker for Client X. One evening after dinner, Client X refuses to do his washing up, despite John persistently prompting him to do so for 5 minutes, so John does his client’s washing up for him. Before going to sleep, John runs through these events in his mind and asks himself how he was feeling at the time. He acknowledges that he felt tired as he and Client X had been on a long bike ride in the daytime. And because he was tired, he didn’t want to get into a long debate about why his client should do the washing up and thought it would be easier if he just did it himself. It then occurs to him that his client was probably also very tired from their bike ride and that maybe this was the reason he didn’t want to move off the sofa. He also remembered that his client is generally very neat and tidy and probably wouldn’t have been comfortable going to bed with dirty plates at the sink. On reflection, he deduced that it is very likely that Client X would have done his washing up before bed (if John hadn’t of done it for him). John concludes that he shouldn’t have done the washing up and should have left it for Client X to do in his own time instead. John makes a mental note to leave the washing up next time Client X refuses to do it.
How reflective practice contributes to improving the practice of service provision
Reflective practice can be used to continuously improve not only your own practice but also the practice of your service as a whole. By sharing the insights that you and others have gained from your own reflective practices you can work together to change the way you work for the better. And, as everybody improves their work, by using reflective practice, the service of the entire organisation improves.
How standards can be used to help a social care worker reflect on their practice
Standards can help you use reflective practice because they can provide you with the core values and guidelines within which you should work. For example, the Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers and Adult Social Care Workers in England provides guidance about how care workers should work and act in a compassionate and safe way. During your reflective practice, you should ask yourself if you are working within these guidelines and if not, then you can ensure that you adjust your practice to be in line with it next time.